Salmon and Halibut fishing were strong in 2023

By Sam Vandervalk of Salmon Eye Charters 11/25/23

Fishing was good in more than one spot on Vancouver Island. The east side saw a resurgence of both Chinook and Coho. The limits there have been less than desirable thanks so some not so friendly regulations from DFO for which I haven’t figured what the logic is.

On the west coast out of Ucluelet we are lucky to still be able to get full limits of Chinook, Halibut and Lingcod during the summer season. We definitelty had some very good days fishing.

Below is a recap on each species. If you haven’t fished the west coast lately, the trend is for the fish to be closer to shore so the long run to Big Bank has been less likely to happen over the past few years.

The good halibut fishing started to get going in late May and picked up in early June and continued until late September. There were lots of nice catches in closer to shore this year for Halibut and we really didn’t have to try as hard or run as far most of the summer.

Halibut fishing during September stayed hot throughout the month which seems to be a trend in recent years. We didn’t do a lot of days offshore but when we did the halibut fishing was fast and the guests were stoked! You never really know what September fishing is going to bring.

While we find anchoring to be the best, you can also drift fish In the right spots. This past summer was great for both.

The early season Chinook fishing in April and most of May was very good. After the commercial opening late May things slowed down a bit for a while but there were always pockets of Chinook and bites on tides in normal areas.

In the past it has often been the same where the fishing slows down for a while. With the limited area that we can fish for Chinook it makes it more impactful. Obviously we can be sure that there is always a connection but Ucluelet seems to be the feeding grounds for feeder Chinook early season.

When this happens its more important to know the day to day trends for where the fish are biting and on what.

In July the Chinook fishing really picked up in close to shore and offshore. Hotspots were Long Beach, Inside South, Great Bear, Fraser Rock, Wya, Flo and Big Bank. Southwest corner was also good late July and early August.

The August run around Wya picked up around August 10 and for about 15 days it was crazy action. We had a nice streak of days where when you got 1 fish on you just had to wait 30 seconds for the double hookup.

This September the Chinook salmon fishing was decent up until Sept 10 like the trend has been.

Best lures: A go to lure is always a small spoon when fishing in close to shore even in Florencia Bay. While getting the right hutchie/flasher combination can work very well, if you aren’t fishing all the time it can be a bit frustrating to figure out. White hutchies can work well both in close to shore and offshore.

Coho started in June and there were periods of very good fishing but overall maybe not as strong as other years.

The coho were around until mid September though not in large numbers. Normally we see a fair amount on Big Bank though we didn’t find them on the few days we were out for halibut.


Lingcod fishing all summer was very strong if you know spots and methods.

May – August was very consistent, really not much for wind and a mildly foggy year. Ucluelet is the best spot in my opinion to fish the west coast for weather.

We had a little patch of strong northwest winds early September which wasn’t normal so that kept us fishing close to shore for the first week. Overall the weather was decent.

If any of you are coming fishing in Ucluelet and staying for 4 plus nights during the summer we have a property where you can park trailers and we have different sized cabins which can handle groups. If you want to fish with us we also do packages and our 3 day package has 50 lbs a day guarantee. We donate part of the package prices to the local fish hatchery.

Best of luck in planning your 2024 fishing trips and you can see a many more photos on the website fishing reports.

If you are looking to come fishing in 2024 it would be good to book as early as possible as the boats fill up during the high season and accommodation is harder to find. Booking early is especially important for large groups.

Check out get our fishing packages available at https://www.salmoneye.net/site/fishing-packages.html

You can check out Tofino-info.com for beaches, trails and things to do in the Tofino and Ucluelet area.

For a locals page on fishing Ucluelet check out FishingUcluelet.ca .

Tight lines,

Sam Vandervalk